The Project Behind a Front Page Full of Names
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Instead of the articles, photographs or graphics that normally appear on the front page of The New York Times, on Sunday, there is just a list: a long, solemn list of people whose lives were lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
As the death toll from Covid-19 in the United States approaches 100,000, a number expected to be reached in the coming days, editors at The Times have been planning how to mark the grim milestone.
Simone Landon, assistant editor of the Graphics desk, wanted to represent the number in a way that conveyed both the vastness and the variety of lives lost.
Departments across The Times have been robustly covering the coronavirus pandemic for months. But Ms. Landon and her colleagues realized that “both among ourselves and perhaps in the general reading public, there’s a little bit of a fatigue with the data.”
“We knew we were approaching this milestone,” she added. “We knew that there should be some way to try to reckon with that number.”
Putting 100,000 dots or stick figures on a page “doesn’t really tell you very much about who these people were, the lives that they lived, what it means for us as a country,” Ms. Landon said. So, she came up with the idea of compiling obituaries and death notices of Covid-19 victims from newspapers large and small across the country, and culling vivid passages from them.
Alain Delaquérière, a researcher, combed through various sources online for obituaries and death notices with Covid-19 written as the cause of death. He compiled a list of nearly a thousand names from hundreds of newspapers. A team of editors from across the newsroom, in addition to three graduate student journalists, read them and gleaned phrases that depicted the uniqueness of each life lost:
“Alan Lund, 81, Washington, conductor with ‘the most amazing ear’ … ”
“Theresa Elloie, 63, New Orleans, renowned for her business making detailed pins and corsages … ”
“Florencio Almazo Morán, 65, New York City, one-man army … ”
“弗洛伦西奥·阿尔马佐·莫兰(Florencio Almazo Morán)，终年65岁，纽约，一个人的军队……”
“Coby Adolph, 44, Chicago, entrepreneur and adventurer … ”
Ms. Landon compared the result to a “rich tapestry” that she could not have woven by herself. Clinton Cargill, assistant editor on the National desk, was Ms. Landon’s “editing co-pilot,” she said. Other key players in the project were Matt Ruby, deputy editor of Digital News Design; Annie Daniel, a software engineer; and the graphics editors Jonathan Huang, Richard Harris and Lazaro Gamio. Andrew Sondern, an art director, is behind the print design.
兰登把这个结果比作一幅无法靠她自己一人编织出来的“华丽挂毯”。她说国内新闻版的助理编辑克林顿·卡吉尔(Clinton Cargill)是她的“编辑搭档”。项目的其他关键人物还有数字新闻设计部门的副主编马特·鲁比(Matt Ruby)、软件工程师安妮·丹尼尔(Annie Daniel)，以及图像编辑乔纳森·黄(Jonathan Huang)、理查德·哈里斯(Richard Harris)和拉扎罗·贾米奥(Lazaro Gamio)。美术总监安德鲁·桑德恩(Andrew Sondern)负责印刷设计。
Marc Lacey, National editor, had warned Tom Bodkin, chief creative officer of The Times, that the milestone was coming. “I wanted something that people would look back on in 100 years to understand the toll of what we’re living through,” Mr. Lacey said in an email.
国内新闻主编马克·莱西(Marc Lacey)曾经提醒时报首席创意官汤姆·博德金(Tom Bodkin)，这个里程碑即将到来。“我想要这样一种效果，人们在100年后回顾它的时候，可以理解我们现在所经受的沉重代价，”莱西在电子邮件中写道。
For the front page of the paper, two ideas stood out: either a grid of hundreds of pictures of those who had lost their lives to Covid-19, or an “all type” concept, Mr. Bodkin said. Whichever approach was chosen, he said, “we wanted to take over the entire page.”
The all-type concept came to the fore. Such a treatment “would be hugely dramatic,” he said.
The design references that of centuries-old newspapers, which Mr. Bodkin is keenly interested in. For many years after The Times started publishing in 1851, there were no headlines, in the modern sense.
“It was kind of running text with little subheads,” Mr. Bodkin said, describing newspapers in the mid-1800s.
Online, readers can scroll down for the names, descriptive phrases and an essay written by Dan Barry, a Times reporter and columnist. The number “one hundred thousand” tolls again and again.
Mr. Bodkin said he did not remember any front pages without images during his 40 years at The Times, “though there have been some pages with only graphics,” he said, adding, “This is certainly a first in modern times.”
Inside the paper, the list continues, threaded with Dan Barry’s essay. But mostly there are names. More names, and more lives lost.